End of life financial planning isn’t the happiest of topics – but a necessary one to discuss. After all, you don’t want to leave your family or other heirs out in the cold should something happen to you unexpectedly and you aren’t there to provide for them. You should be planning today to protect loved ones.
Advanced end of life financial planning will help with crucial life decisions, such as estate distribution, trust transfers, funeral expenses and much more. If you’re trying to get your financial plan in order, you need to be proactive in preparing your money, property and other assets in the event of your death.
End of Life Financial Planning
Taking some time out of your schedule to plan these crucial tasks will ensure that your family will be protected. Here are five keys to consider:
1. Develop an Estate Plan
It’s impossible to know what will happen in the future, which is why it’s important to have an estate plan in place. An estate plan arranges the management and distribution of your estate, money, legacy wishes, and other assets after death. It also may help family members or heirs pay substantially less in court costs, taxes and fees.
Your estate plan will include two crucial things — a will and power of attorney. When you work with an estate advisor, they’ll help you develop a plan so you can save on estate taxes, maximize financial security for your family, avoid probate and designate someone to make decisions for you if you become incapacitated.
It’s important to have an airtight estate plan in place so you can protect your loved ones. When properly done, estate planning will make the transition of the estate smoother, while helping to protect your family from large expenses.
2. Develop a Will or Living Trust
In terms of end-of-life planning, an essential document you need to produce is either a will or living trust. The two are similar, but not the same:
- Will/Testament – this legal document defines how a person’s money, property and other assets are to be distributed in the event of their death, naming the executor(s), to manage the estate until its final distribution.
- Living trust – a living trust makes it so your property can be distributed to heirs more quickly and easily, bypassing the expensive and lengthy probate process.
So, which document is right for you? That depends. A trust takes much more time, effort and money to setup and manage. However, after death, a trust does not have to go through the time-consuming, expensive probate process. Beneficiaries receive their gifts much more quickly or based on distribution timelines laid out in the trust.
A revocable trust also referred to as a living trust, is an instrument used to manage your assets during your lifetime and at death. A revocable trust may be amended or revoked. And as with a traditional will, you provide for the disposition of your assets at your death, either outright to your beneficiaries or in the trust for their benefit.
3. Get All of Your Affairs in Order
When planning end-of-life financial arrangements, take time to get your affairs in order. Here are some things you can do to ensure your family has everything they need to gain access to funds, property and assets:
- Put all important documents in a single location that your spouse, dependents, attorney or other financial advisors can access. These things could include personal documents, such as social security card, birth certificates, and employment, education or military records, to financial documents like insurance information, bank account numbers, taxes, mortgages, and debts.
- Prepare for guardianship issues or disability concerns by giving your doctor or lawyer advanced permission to talk with your caregiver as needed, as there will inevitably be healthcare, insurance, and other expenses. You can give approval to Medicare, a credit card company, your bank or doctor.
4. Establish Funeral Plans and Arrangements
Funeral plans are often not given enough thought. It’s crucial that you take early measures to define how you will pay for your funeral. There are three ways to go about funeral arrangements that carry their own advantages and disadvantages.
- Plan and prepay for your funeral– many funeral homes allow you to pay with a trust or insurance, making it easy for you to make funeral preparations.
- Plan but don’t prepay your funeral – if you want to commit funds to your funeral while you’re alive, many banks will allow you to open a simple bank account with a payable-on-death beneficiary.
- Leave the planning and the paying to someone else – this approach is often the least recommended because it puts the burden of planning a funeral on someone who’s most likely experiencing grief.
5. Ensuring your Loved Ones have a Trustworthy Financial Advisor
Once you are unable to provide for your family, who will advise them on the management of the finances you pass on? It’s critical that you find a trusted financial advisor during your lifetime that can be there for your heirs long after you’re gone. The distribution and management of an estate, whether large or small, can be a complex, costly process if not executed properly. Find a partner you can trust so you can ensure that your family is secure for years to come.
If you need help with end of life financial planning, Trust Point is here to help.
Contact Trust Point today for all of your end of life financial planning needs. We’ve been serving clients by creating tailored financial plans for more than 100 years, and are here to help you with a variety of wealth related issues — from estate planning to trust management and much more.
Our full-service professional staff includes a wide variety of financial experts who all share a common goal: to improve the outlook of your financial future through smart planning. Whether you are an individual in need of trust services, estate planning or retirement consulting, we are prepared to offer you world-class professional expertise on a personal basis.
With over a century of experience, we’re the team that has the knowledge to help you meet your financial needs. Get in touch with our dedicated team of professionals today.